Timothy R. Phillips
Phillips became president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) in 2006. Under his leadership, the organization experienced "rapid growth," according to AFP, going from nine state chapters in January 2006 to 32 state chapters with full-time staff on the ground in 2012. AFP has said that it expanded its membership to 2 million nationwide and that its budget went from $3 million in 2004 to $130 million in 2012. During his tenure, AFP has worked to defeat a number of issues, like cap-and-trade, card check, President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation, and items on the state level, and has also worked on behalf of a number of candidates, including Governor Scott Walker (R-WI).
According to the Center for Public Integrity, Americans for Prosperity "spent a staggering $122 million (in 2012) as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats," including $83 million on "communications, ads, and media."
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 Professional Background
- 3 News and Controversies
- 3.1 Phillips Attends Astroturf Dinner with President Trump
- 3.2 AFP's President Tim Phillips Expresses Love for Mike Pence
- 3.3 Battle Over Emissions Standards for Coal Fired Power Plants, 2014
- 3.4 Undermining the Science of Climate Change, 2011
- 3.5 AFP Backing of Scott Walker
- 3.6 Connections to Jack Abramoff
- 3.7 Organization "Set Up under Guidance of Phillips" Made Attacks Against Eric Cantor
- 3.8 Century Strategies Hired to Push Deregulation for Enron
- 4 Articles and Resources
Ties to the Koch Brothers
According to the New Yorker, when David Koch and Richard Fink founded AFP, they chose Tim Phillips to run it. Phillips has also participated in multiple Koch network donor summits, including in February 2014 and June 2014.
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Phillips is a Virginia-based conservative political strategist, having 28 years of political experience working on campaigns at various levels, including presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative races, according to Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
Phillips first came to prominence in 1992, when he ran Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) first campaign for the House of Representatives. Following Goodlatte's victory in that race, Phillips worked on Capitol Hill for Goodlatte, serving as his chief of staff for four years.
In 1997, Phillips left his work for Goodlatte to co-found Century Strategies, a conservative public relations and public affairs firm, with well-known strategist and former director of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed. Phillips was the firm's vice president and managed Millennium Marketing, a subsidiary of Century Strategies that focused on direct mailing efforts. In the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, Phillips oversaw Century Strategies' direct mail, telemarketing, and coalition-building programs as well as other strategic services for George W. Bush's campaign. Following Bush's victory for the Republican nomination, Phillips and his firm continued to work for the Bush-Cheney ticket through the general election, according to the archived Century Strategies website.
Phillips has worked for a number of politicians and committees:
- Republican Party Georgia
- Florida Republican House Caucus
- Dick Armey, former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives
- J.C. Watts, former Chair of the House Republican Conference
- National Republican Congressional Committee
- John Hager, former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
- Bush for President in 1988
- Republican Party of Virginia
In addition to working on several electoral campaigns, Phillips has worked on various issue advocacy campaigns as well as for Fortune 500 companies, according to Century Strategies.
News and Controversies
Phillips Attends Astroturf Dinner with President Trump
Tim Philips attended a dinner hosted by President Trump for "grassroots leaders" on September 25, 2017 and sat directly to the right of the President. Former Freedom Partners President and current White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short was also at the dinner. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Nick Ayers were also at the dinner.
"A source in the room told all-terrain Jonathan Swan: 'He was very juiced up about tax cuts... very bullish on passing tax reform, and he was specifically calling it a tax cut,'" Axios reported.
AFP's President Tim Phillips Expresses Love for Mike Pence
In an interview with Lauren Windsor of The Undercurrent outside the 2016 Republican National Convention, Americans for Prosperity's President and Koch lieutenant Tim Phillips expressed his "love" for Gov. Pence, but declined to endorse the Trump-Pence ticket.
Battle Over Emissions Standards for Coal Fired Power Plants, 2014
Koch Industries has long served on the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity is an important promoter of the ALEC agenda. In 2013, ALEC launched a new effort to coordinate state attorneys general to sue to prevent federal emissions standards for coal fired power plants from going into effect. ALEC was also advancing a raft of bills to facilitate the fossil fuel industry and roll back renewables, as detailed in a report by the Center for Media and Democracy. Peabody Energy, Koch Industries, and Exxon Mobile all play powerful rules within ALEC, so it is not surprising that of ALEC's 25 "energy" model bills, 24 serve fossil fuel interests and undermine clean energy, according to Greenpeace.
In 2014, Tim Phillips told the New York Times that the group’s sustained opposition to the Affordable Care Act was mere prelude to the fight over climate change. “We have a broader cautionary tale,” said Phillips. “The president’s out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is.”
See also ALECexposed.org.
Undermining the Science of Climate Change, 2011
According to a 2011 article in the National Journal, Phillips said that Americans For Prosperity and other groups like it have been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science: "If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there's been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political. We've made great headway. What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you … buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process -- the conventions and the primaries -- are suspect of the science. And that's our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it."
AFP Backing of Scott Walker
In February 2011, the New York Times reported that Phillips' Americans for Prosperity was involved in pushing for newly elected Gov. Scott Walker's proposed bill "cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights." According to the Times:
- "Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday."
Scott Walker was caught in a prank phone call by a blogger pretending to be David Koch in February 2011. Shortly thereafter, AFP launched TV ads in support of Scott Walker's union-busting Act 10 legislation.
AFP also spent $2-3 million each on TV ads in support of Walker during his 2012 recall campaign along with the nonprofit State Policy Network "think tank" the McIver Institute.
Connections to Jack Abramoff
Century Strategies Hired to Mobilize Religious Conservatives Against Casinos for Abramoff
In August 2004, Ralph Reed confirmed that his and Phillips' firm, Century Strategies, had accepted more than $1 million in fees from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon, who were convicted of corruption charges in 2005 in connection to their work for American Indian casinos.
For the firm's fee, Reed agreed to mobilize religious conservatives against the building of casinos, which would allow the established casinos -- like the tribal casinos for which Scanlon and Abramoff worked -- a greater share of the market.
According to a statement given to the Washington Post, Reed claimed:
- "I have worked for decades to oppose the expansion of casino gambling, and as a result of that, Century Strategies has worked with broad coalitions to oppose casino expansion. We are proud of the work we have done. It is consistent not only with my beliefs but with the beliefs of the grassroots citizens that we mobilized. And at no time was Century Strategy ever retained by, or worked on behalf of, any casino or casino company."
Reed further asserted that while he and the firm were aware Abramoff and Scanlon had such clients, they were not aware of "every specific client or interest."
Faith and Family Alliance Allegedly Used to Funnel Money for Abramoff
Phillips and the Faith and Family Alliance -- the controversial defunct 527 committee Phillips helped to set up, according to the Virginia newspaper Daily Progress -- also faced scrutiny for their alleged involvement with Jack Abramoff. According to the Washington Post:
- "Faith and Family allegedly was used by Abramoff to funnel money to a campaign to defeat legislation to prohibit gambling over the Internet. Money was sent from a client of Abramoff's to Americans for Tax Reform, which kept a portion. The rest was routed to Faith and Family, records show. [The group's executive director Robin] Vanderwall then made out a check for the identical amount and sent it to the political consulting firm where Phillips is vice president. That firm was founded by former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, an Abramoff friend. The money was meant to attack conservative Republicans who backed the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, a review of records shows."
Millennium Marketing Used to Print Controversial Mailer for Abramoff Firm
Phillips is also connected to Abramoff through another deal between Abramoff and Century Strategies' direct mail subsidiary, Millennium Marketing, which Phillips managed.
In 1999, Jack Abramoff and his firm at the time, Greenberg Traurig, hired Millennium Marketing to release a mailer to religious conservatives in Alabama to urge them to call upon then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-AL) to vote against legislation raising wages and worker safety standards in the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States.
The mail piece alleged that "the radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton" conspired to pass the labor law to stop Chinese workers from coming to the U.S. territory. It claimed that those Chinese workers were exposed to Christian teachings while working on the island.
However, a Department of Interior report claimed that the workers were subject to forced prostitution and abortion on the island. Further, it stated that businesses set up facilities on the island so that products could be labeled "Made in the USA" while exploiting imported labor from China and other Asian countries not subject to federal labor standards.
Organization "Set Up under Guidance of Phillips" Made Attacks Against Eric Cantor
In addition to helping to create the controversial defunct 527 committee Faith and Family Alliance, Phillips further recruited the group's executive director, Robin Vanderwall. The group had limited activity. However, the organization participated in the 2000 primary for Virginia's 7th Congressional District. Four days before that election, the Faith and Family Alliance made controversial attacks against then-state Delegate and later-U.S. Representative Eric Cantor, who would go on to win the election. The organization questioned his values and labeled his opponent, state Senator Stephen Martin, "the only Christian" in the race (Eric Cantor being Jewish), and a mail piece criticized Cantor for being a "millionaire" who wants to "cut your taxes" even though "he didn't pay his own." While Cantor was heavily favored in the race, he won with just 263 votes, for which some blame the Faith and Family Alliance, according to the Washington Post and Daily Progress.
Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, described the campaign as follows:
- "A despicable, underground campaign that was unquestionably anti-Semitic nearly beat Cantor in the GOP primary for U.S. House to succeed Tom Bliley in June 2000. Cantor had been heavily favored over state Sen. Steve Martin, but in the end he won by a couple hundred votes."
Century Strategies Hired to Push Deregulation for Enron
In 2000, Ralph Reed, on behalf of his and Phillips' firm, Century Strategies, pitched an offer to help deregulate the electricity industry to Enron, the infamous corporation that went bankrupt after a major scandal in 2001.
According to a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Reed laid out a strategy that included mobilizing opinion leaders in the districts of the members of the congressional committees that handle deregulation. He further suggested they use telemarketing to cold-call citizens and connect them to their members of congress as well as implement a PR campaign with letters to the editor and conservative talk shows.
"We are a loyal member of your team and are prepared to do whatever fits your strategic plan," Reed wrote in the memo.
In return for Century Strategies' services, Reed proposed a $380,000 fee.
According to Phillips, who was the firm's vice president at the time, Century Strategies and Enron cut ties in October 2001, around the same time Enron first began to face major public scrutiny. Phillips also claimed that Enron never approved of the strategy Reed presented in the memo.
Reed and the firm were first recommended to Enron by Bush advisor Karl Rove in 1997. At that time, Reed worked to help Enron successfully deregulate parts of the electricity industry in Pennsylvania. Following that work, allegations emerged that Rove may have recommended Reed as a way to keep him in the favor of George W. Bush's campaign for the presidency without actually having him on the campaign's payroll.
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Americans for Prosperity
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation
- Ralph Reed
- Jack Abramoff
- Faith and Family Alliance
- Century Strategies
- Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, President, organizational website, accessed August 23, 2012.
- Michael Beckel, "Koch-backed nonprofit spent record cash in 2012," Center for Public Integrity, November 14, 2013.
- "About AFP - Tim Phillips: Timothy R. Phillips, President", Americans for Prosperity website, accessed August 2008.
- Jane Mayer, "Covert Operations," New Yorker, October 30, 2010. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Lee Fang, "Tim Phillips, The Man Behind The ‘Americans For Prosperity’ Corporate Front Group Factory," ThinkProgress, May 29, 2009. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Century Strategies, Tim Phillips page, archived firm website, accessed June 16, 2014.
- Americans for Prosperity, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing available via GuideStar.org, accessed June 25, 2014.
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing available via GuideStar.org, accessed June 25, 2014.
- White House Office of the Press Secretary, Photos from President Donald J. Trump’s Dinner with Grassroots Leaders, White House Office of the Press Secretary, September 26, 2017.
- Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen, Trump bullish on tax reform at dinner with conservative leaders, Axios, September 26, 2017.
- Lauren Windsor, Top Koch Brothers Operative: "I Love Mike Pence", The Undercurrent, July 19, 2016.
- Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC Explosed, accessed July 3, 2014.
- Suzanne Goldenberg, "Barack Obama's emissions plan comes under new line of attack," The Guardian, May 2, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Nick Surgey, "Revealed: ALEC’s 2014 Attacks on the Environment," Center for Media and Democracy, April 23, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Connor Gibson, "ALEC Doesn’t Care About #FreeMarkets," Greenpeace, May 2, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker, "Koch Group, Spending Freely, Hones Attack on Government," New York Times, March 20, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Coral Davenport, "Heads in the Sand," National Journal, December 1, 2011.
- Eric Lipton, "Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute," New York Times, February 21, 2011, accessed July 1, 2014.
- Mary Spicuzza, "Walker pranked by caller posing as billionaire donor David Koch," Wisconsin State Journal, February 23, 2011. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Ryan J. Reilly, "Americans for Prosperity Ad: Wisconsin Public Employees Are 'Abandoning Our Children' (VIDEO)," Talking Points Memo, February 22, 2011. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Mary Bottari, "Pro-Walker Ads, Courtesy of Koch Industries," Center for Media and Democracy, November 30, 2011. Accessed July 3, 2014.
- Thomas B. Edsall, Reed Confirms Fees From Indian Casino Lobbyists, Washington Post, August 30, 2004.
- Brian McNeill, GOP chair tied to group that attacked Cantor, Daily Progress, January 24, 2013.
- James V. Grimaldi, Consultans for Va. Candidate Linked to Indicted Lobbyist, Washington Post, November 3, 2005.
- Thomas B. Edsall, Another Stumble for Ralph Reed’s Beleaguered Campaign, Washington Post, May 29, 2006.
- Joe Stephens, Bush 2000 Adviser Offered To use Clout to Help Enron, Washington Post, February 17, 2002.
- Richard L. Berke, Lawmaker to Review Enron’s Campaign Links, New York Times, February 5, 2002.